I had heard of Blank Slate Patterns & seen some of their designs on various sewing blogs I follow. The Marigold dress caught my attention a few months ago when Michelle from Happily Caffeinated started raving about it. But I already had several Big 4 shirtdresses in my pattern stash, so I forgot about it.
I’ve made McCall’s 6696 several times, & love it, but the Marigold had some built-in features I’d had to hack into the M6696. It’s a half-shirtdress (placket on the bodice only), with curved side-front pockets. The elastic waist & casual band collar made me think it would be an easy dress to wear on the hottest summer days, but it still has some classic shirtdress construction, with a separate button placket, two-piece collar, & a shoulder yoke. Shoulder gathers rather than darts create the bust fullness, a nice vintage-y detail. I instantly thought of some yardage I’d stashed for another M6696, a Swiss dot knock-off of Liberty of London’s Carline print. I even had buttons on hand that perfectly matched the not-quite-red not-quite-pink of the roses on the fabric.
Worth mentioning: I made the dress, but this pattern also includes variations for a top with two different peplum styles, & a skirt in two different lengths. There is also an option for long sleeves with a cuff & tower placket, & an optional sash. So, lots of bang for your buck with this one.
The Marigold has a smaller size range than some other Blank Slate patterns, but the size 18 was a near-perfect match for my measurements. Blank Slate claims to draft for a C/D cup, but this D cup says it’s closer to a C. I didn’t do an FBA on this dress, but I think I could have benefited from one in the long run. I do love that the Blank Slate size chart includes both high & full bust measurements. I have narrow-ish shoulders for my frame, & knowing the high bust measurement helped me pick the right size.
The only alteration I made for my muslin was to add a total of 2” (1” each both front & back) width to the waist. I just slashed & spread, easy peasy. I made a wearable muslin out of some metallic chambray I’d had in my stash for a couple of years & wasn’t super-thrilled with the fit (plus the fabric was torture to wear). The bodice was clearly too short & there was a bit of pulling across the front & there was some weird blousiness above the bust. For my real version, I added 1” to the bodice length, grading to 1/2” in the center back, I added another 1/2” of width across the front, & I pinched out 1/2” at the top of the shoulder.
I didn’t really pay much attention to the directions. This wasn’t my first shirtdress, so I already knew how to construct it. I just took care to transfer the marks for the shoulder gathers, & it’s important to sew the waist with a 1” seam allowance instead of the 1/2” used for the rest of the dress so you have room for the elastic casing.
The biggest change I made was to line the whole thing. The dress doesn’t call for a lining, but the Swiss dot I chose was a bit on the sheer side. I used white voile to make the white background in the Swiss dot pop a little more. I underlined the bodice & made a free hanging lining for the skirt. I didn’t want to include the gathers in the lining because I wanted to avoid unnecessary poofiness & volume in that area, so I converted the gathers to a dart.
It’s a good thing I lined it, too. The very first time I wore it, I got caught in a torrential downpour. Without that lining, I would have been flashing my bra through my soaking wet Swiss dot dress for the entire town to see. I also somehow dumped an entire pot of (cool) coffee on myself the first time I wore it. Thankfully, it washed out with no staining.
I also used French seams throughout to enclose all the raw edges. The construction of the shoulder yoke & collar means those seams are already enclosed, so why not just go all the way?
The result is a cool, comfortable dress that will see a lot of wear this summer. This is also a great starter shirtdress for anyone who likes the look but is intimidated by all the work that goes into making one. You get practice with the tailored construction details sewing the yoke, collar, & button placket, but the short-sleeved version only requires four buttonholes, & the elastic waist gives you a little wiggle room with fitting.
Sorry so long! My blog has some extra detail on construction & fitting. & sorry for the grumpy-looking photos. I live across the street from the police station & a cop was staring at me suspiciously the whole time I was staging the photos.